Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rotie Cellars of Walla Walla: Grab 'em!

Seriously, these are wines that if you are fortunate to see on a shelf, you better grab them up. Don't hesitate, especially if you are a fan of the wines from the Rhone region of France. The wines of Rotie Cellars are elusive and wines that I would describe as "small in production, but large on fans." 

When winemaker, Sean Boyd started Rotie Cellars his goal was to start a winery that only produced traditional Rhone-style blends, but of course using grapes grown in Washington State. He wanted to pay homage to the wines that he truly loved - which were dark inky Syrah/Viognier blends of the North and sexy GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mouvedre) blends from the South. 

Therefore, Rotie Cellars is dedicated to creating Old World wines from New World grapes.

In fact, the only two wines that are available now, until Spring Release 2012, are the Southern White - 2010 and the Southern Red Blend - 2009. As of this date I know they have a few cases left of the red and may have a few bottles of the white available - - maybe. If not, at least you will keep a watchful eye when it comes time for their new releases this spring. 

Southern White - 2010: 50% Viognier, 30% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne. When you tuck your nose into the glass bowl of this wine you cannot escape the rich perfume of pears, honeysuckle, lilac and violas. Sure - dab a little behind your ears. The nose of the viognier really takes front and center and does not want to be ignored. I had to take a second look at the vintage printed on the label as the  wine was the color of honey - as if it had taken on some age. At first glance I thought it might have been a vintage of at least 5 years old instead of two. The flavors reminded me of being in an orchard, with the notes of pears, peaches and apricots with a hint of acidity. It rounded out with flavors of light honey, vanilla, and wet stone.  This is a wine that is easy to sip, and sip, and ... It's one of those wines that I like to categorize as "swoon worthy!"

The Rousanne and Marsanne is from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The Viognier was grown at Seven Hills East in the Walla Walla AVA.

Southern Red - 2009: This is one of those GSM's I was referring to with 68% Grenache, 16% Syrah & 16% Mourvedre.  Inky, smoky and - - luscious. The nose is earthy with dark dried cherries and a hint of wet stone. Full flavors of more dark cherries, brambleberries and a hint of rhubarb rest on the palate. The flavors rounded out with the acidity of juicy raspberries and lingered with a light sprinkling of spices - nutmeg, black pepper and star anise. Very well balanced and a wine that I could sip on with or without food. A great pairing would be roasted red meat with an accompaniment of mushrooms and roasted carrots or go all vegetarian with a portobello mushroom "burger" on a poppyseed bun. 

The Southern Red is a wine you could put a few years on due to the tannins - - and with the help from the high winds of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The winds from the Gorge area helps to  increase grape's skin density which assists in creating tannins.

The word on the "wine street" is that the Washington AVA's of Horse Heaven Hills and the Gorge will be the future of world renowned Grenache.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

February: Couvillion Winery and Petit Noirs Chocolate

I know - February was like sooo last month. Here we are in the middle of March.

However, when I do think of February I cannot help from thinking about two things: chocolate and cherries. No doubt it has to do with Valentine's Day and President's Day - you know, the ol' story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and how he couldn't tell a lie ...

Well, I cannot tell a lie. It's no secret that I love pairing chocolate and wine together. Last month, I recently discovered a wonderful pairing of the two, but of local chocolate, cherries and wine.  

Jill of Couvillion Winery
Jill Noble of Couvillion Winery produces small lots of larger than life grapes such as her Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  These are bold wines, but with polish and elegance - alot like the winemaker herself.  Producing from small lots and estate vineyards allows Jill to ensure the quality of her grapes. She claims her grapes are lucky grapes and she feels lucky to have them. And for the record, we are always lucky when there is an opportunity to taste the wines of Couvillion.

Couvillion Merlot - 2009 and Petits Noirs Chocolat Tart Cherry and Star Anise Boutons ("buttons") make for a very satisfactory and lush pairing. The two really complement each other. 
Lan of Petits Noirs Chocolates
Lan Wong of Petits Noirs specialty is crafting chocolate creations that are not only inspired by the fresh produce grown in the valley, but also inspired from the various complex notes found in the local wines. This local boutique chocolatier is located in the lush Oregon region of the Walla Walla Valley, where vineyards and fruit orchards share the same fertile terrior. 

The Right Bank Bordeaux-style varietal of merlot has the flavors of earth and cherries with hints of mocha and undertones of clove and ripe dark plums. The dark chocolate is distinctive with dark red tart fruit and vanilla. The sprinkling of star anise brings it all together with tones of sweet licorice. 

"They" keep telling us about the benefits of red wine and dark chocolate and the two being "heart healthy." And of course, when we think of February we also think of hearts like in Valentine's Day. I also think that wine and chocolate are also beneficial for emotional health and happiness, too. I know wine and chocolate certainly keeps my emotional health and happiness in check.

Here's to February for all of it's chocolatey and cherry goodness - - and of course, wine.

Petits Noirs Chocolate Tart Cherry and Star Anise Boutons